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Bethlehem Green

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Bethlehem was settled in 1734 as the North Purchase of the town of Woodbury. Four years later, in 1738, Reverend Joseph Bellamy began preaching in Bethlehem. The first meeting house (built six years after Bellamy began preaching) was located in another part of the settlement. In 1767 a second church was built, this time for Bellamy, on the north end of what is now the green. A granite obelisk marks the location. Bellamy's house (ca. 1760), an imposing, three and one-half story structure, still stands north of the green on the other side of East Street.

In 1787 the town of Bethlehem was split off from Woodbury and the church became the center of governing activities. In 1790 a larger church was built across the street to the southwest of the green on the site of the present Congregational church. The area around the green was firmly established as the town center in 1839 when a townhouse was built across the street from the church. The area was recently reaffirmed as the town center when new town offices were built c. 1980 on West Main Street facing the green.

Other historic buildings around the green include the first Episcopal Church; two residences that were taverns in the eighteenth century; a general store which occupies the site of a former nineteenth-century store; and a former school building now used by the Episcopal Church.

The green is the site of the second Congregational Church and has remained the town center since the meetinghouse was constructed in 1767. The green and the streetscape retain much of their late 18th and 19th century character despite the recent addition of the new town offices of unremarkable design.



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